This locomotive is a special machine to me. It’s not just that it is the only survivor of a Victorian class of steam engine or that has strong ties with the Isle of Wight – a place without I wouldn’t have Mrs Locoyard who puts up with me! This locomotive was one that had eluded me – at least seeing it running and in steam. Countless visits to the Isle of Wight all proved fruitless and when W24 Calbourne toured the mainland, I happened to be on holiday!There’s an old saying (that I’m almost certainly misquoting) that goes something along the lines of… you only find something when you stop looking for it. In reality, this approach isn’t logical in any way and in the respect of steam engines, checking a loco roster on a website, a lineup for a steam gala or making a quick phone call is the best approach. But in the case of seeing W24 Calbourne in steam, I rarely had that opportunity to plan a trip in this way, as trips to the Isle of Wight by Mrs Locoyard and I are planned around so many other factors – friends, family and our work patterns. In truth, I had resigned myself to thinking that I’d never see this little locomotive run and it was only when I gave up that I saw it!
It’s a delightful steam locomotive to see in action. The Westinghouse air brake pump, needed to operate the air braked rolling stock was clunking away at the station, with steam hissing from various pipes, valves and the chimney – it’s true that a steam engine is the nearest a machine has got to being alive!
The locomotive was designed by William Adams as a suburban tank engine for the London and South Western Railway. This locomotive was built in 1891 at Nine Elms and originally numbered 209. After moving from Fratton to Exeter, it passed into Southern railway ownership in 1923 and moved to the Isle of Wight two years later where it was given it’s current name and number.
After passing into British Railways ownership, Calbourne stayed on the Isle of Wight and remained there until withdrawal in 1967, when W24 was purchased by the Wight Locomotive Society. Sadly no other members of the ex-LSWR 02 class survived into preservation.